Customer Reviews for

A Single Man

Average Rating 4.5
( 10 )
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  • Posted February 9, 2009

    Completely Absorbing

    It's amazing how connected the reader feels to George, the protagonist. It's almost as though we're in his mind, hearing his thoughts. And yet, the novel is written in the third person and so we cannot possibly be doing so. The genius of this book lies in Isherwood's ability to make the third person personal. That, and that, even in the 1960's, he had the temerity to tackle a taboo subject - that of homosexuality - in a sympathetic way. <BR/><BR/>This book follows a day in the life of George. It follows his every thought, his every action and interaction. He has lost his lover. But he still has people in his life, most notably Charlotte. Yet, you get the impression that he is a lonely man. When a neighbor invites him over to her house, he is truly surprised. Almost as though he moved seemingly invisible through the world. Observing. Longing.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 19, 2010

    In awe of Christopher Isherwood

    I've just finished "A Single Man" and immediately think of Gore Vidal's quote on the back of the novel stating, "Isherwood is the best prose writer in English." Well said, Mr. Gore. I find myself struggling to piece together adequate commentary - the length of the novel belies the dense richness packed into every sentence, chapter and word that went into conveying George's story. It is melancholy at times and I doubt that I could have read it with any real understanding or empathy when I was in my twenties or thirties. However, I am now in the same age group as the protagonist George and I am in awe of the talent that could so finely articulate the nuances of thoughts, questions, and emotions threaded from beginning to end in the narrative. I could very much identify and laugh when George stopped at the gym to work out - thinking to himself that he wasn't bad providing he didn't wear his glasses, so he wouldn't see the sags or wrinkles. Or when he speaking to one of his students and states that experience did not provide wisdom rather you merely found yourself saying - oh, yes, that again.

    Read it if only to admire Isherwood's talent as a writer and ability to communicate the interior dialogs and thoughts we may have but are unable to poignantly express as well as he did in this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 29, 2009

    more from this reviewer


    If you have not read Christopher Isherwood you have missed the work of a brilliant author. This particular book was praised by the NY Times as "...a sad, sly report on the predicament of the human animal." Isherwood's prose is spare, mesmerizing; his words well chosen, succinct, meaningful. Most importantly, his writings are true.

    When first published about a half century ago A SINGLE MAN was considered shocking as it portrayed for the first time the life of a gay man, George, who was recently bereaved and trying to adjust to life without his partner. George is a college professor, careful, thoughtful. The all too brief story covers just 24 hours from the moment he awakens in the morning and remembers that he has lost his partner to his studied, sometimes painful navigation of the day.

    We are privy not only to his actions but to his thoughts, thus we share his predicament, a very human one. George is an Englishman living in southern California, a place a bit inhospitable to a middle-aged scholar yet he perseveres by observing routine. Haven't many of us found ourselves left with that as our one means of coping? For this reader/listener that is the beauty of Isherwood as A SINGLE MAN is not solely a drama of gay life but of all humanity.

    Reader Simon Prebble gives voice to George with understanding, and skillful narration. British born his voice is perfectly suited for this role.

    I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hugely successful movie version of A SINGLE MAN by Tom Ford - don't miss this. And hearty recommendations also for Isherwood's Christopher and His Kind and Prater Violet also found on audio from HighBridge.

    - Gail Cooke

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 26, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood This is a tale of grievin

    A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood

    This is a tale of grieving and redemption.

    This is a day in the life of George, a British English schoolteacher at San Tomas Sate College in Southern California, who is mourning the loss of his life partner, Jim. We see him get out of bed, perform his daily routine, and try to cope with his terrible loss.

    Jim died at a car accident in Mexico when he was traveling with his mistress, Doris. Doris survived the accident but she's in a vegetative state. George visits her once a week - mostly because is the only thing left that is purely Jim.

    Charlotte is George's best friend. Also a British, Charlotte is mourning her failed marriage with Buddy and an empty nest - as her son, Fred has finally left her to live with his girlfriend.

    But redemption comes to George, Kenny Potter, one of his students, follows George to his favorite bar - a dive where he and Jim met. Kenny flirts with George and because they are so drunk, they end up together. Although George knows that this will probably be a one time thing, the redemption comes with the knowledge that George is helping Kenny deal with his homosexuality.

    Beautifully told from an universal point of view, the story deals with the loss of a loved one, even one who clearly broke the trust between a couple. George clearly blames Doris for Jim's death, yet one wonders if he had lost Jim irregardless.

    Isherwood is clearly aware that gays are being persecuted and presents a clear perspective of the gay man in the 1960's: &quot;A minority has its own kind of aggression. It absolutely dares the majority to attack it. It hates the majority - not without a cause, I grant you. It even hates the other minorities, because all minorities are in competition: each one proclaims that its sufferings are the worst and its wrongs are the blackest. And the more they all hate, and the more they're all persecuted, the nastier they become! Do you think it makes people nasty to be loved? You know it doesn't! Then why should it make them nice to be loathed? While you're being persecuted, you hate what's happening to you, you hate the people who are making it happen; you're in a world of hate. Why, you wouldn't recognize love if you met it! You'd suspect love! You'd think there was something behind it - some motive - some trick....&quot;

    I wonder if the book would had a different ending, now that gays are more accepted by society....

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2010

    Thought provoking

    An excellent quick read. Presents interesting topics for group discussion

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 18, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 17, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 9, 2010

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